Ancient Monuments

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The Grey Ditch

A Scheduled Monument in Bradwell, Derbyshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.3308 / 53°19'50"N

Longitude: -1.7372 / 1°44'14"W

OS Eastings: 417595.343036

OS Northings: 381570.004774

OS Grid: SK175815

Mapcode National: GBR JY9X.PQ

Mapcode Global: WHCCM.8JZX

Entry Name: The Grey Ditch

Scheduled Date: 15 March 1948

Last Amended: 29 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017662

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29813

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Bradwell

Built-Up Area: Bradwell

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Bradwell St Barnabas

Church of England Diocese: Derby

Details

The monument includes the linear embankment and adjacent ditch known as The
Grey Ditch which is interprted as an early medieval boundary marker. It forms
a composite earthwork oriented WNW-ESE surviving as four distinct sections
which, together, form a demarcation line or barrier across the valley of the
Bradwell Brook. At its western end the earthwork extends to cross the head of
a smaller valley overlooking the village of Hope. The earthwork stands at the
northern edge of the limestone region of the Peak District. Within 1km to the
south is the village of Bradwell, with the settlement of Brough-on-Noe a
similar distance to the north. As well as forming a line of demarcation across
the valleys, it also stands across a ridge at the eastern end of the earthwork
and, to the west, incorporates a natural knoll known as Mich Low. The ditch,
adjacent to the embankment lies on the north side.
The western section of the monument spans the head of a dry valley overlooking
the village of Hope. The earthwork in this section is approximately 150m long
and forms a distinct lynchet to the edge of a field, about 1.7m high on the
north side, but rising only approximately 0.7m on the south side. To the
immediate north is a track, known as Michlow Lane, which may be located in
the remains of the ditch, now resembling a slight hollow way. The earthwork in
this section is truncated at its eastern end by a track from Bradwell to Hope,
a small concreted area adjacent, and by part of Michlow Lane where it
deviates, slightly, to the south. A trackway, entering from the north into
land attached to Sunnyhill Farm, breaches the embankment close to the centre
of this section. At its western end, the earthwork becomes indistinct but
there are faint and intermittent traces of a slight ridge rising to the west
on sloping ground, visible with low sunlight and extending beyond the area of
protection. This may be a continuation of The Grey Ditch, in land which has
been ploughed over in recent times. In view of the indistinct nature of these
remains they are not included in the scheduling.
Further eastwards, an outcrop known as Mich Low was utilised as the boundary
marker, this forms a natural obstacle and is thus not included in the
scheduling. A very slight and intermittent ditch crosses the outcrop, together
with spoil to its south side. The ditch and spoil follow the line of the
earthworks. They may have formed part of the monument but are more likely to
be the result of later mineral extraction.
To the east of Mich Low the earthwork resumes as a lynchet with a trackway
running along the former embankment. To the north is a shallow ditch of
varying depth to a maximum of about 0.7m. Close to the western end
of this section, an excavation during the 1990s revealed that much of the
linear earthwork survives in good condition below ground. Ceramic finds from
this excavation enabled the earthwork to be dated to the post Roman period. At
the eastern end of this section is the road between Bradwell and Brough-on-Noe
which follows the line of Batham Gate, the Roman road to Buxton from the fort
at Navio, located less than 1km to the north.
The earthwork is absent for approximately 240m east of the road and extending
as far as the Bradwell Brook where a small housing estate has been built. To
the east of the brook, the embankment is traceable as a distinct field
boundary lynchet, about 1m high, with a slight rise of a few centimetres in
the ground level to the south. Part of the embankment here has a ruined
drystone wall built on it. About 140m east of the brook, the earthwork
survives as a ditch and embankment. The bank is about 1.3m high and 7m wide
and the ditch about 0.8m deep and 5m wide. This is the longest section of the
linear earthwork, running 470m eastwards from the Bradwell Brook. It is
truncated in three places where tracks cross the embankment and where the
ditch has been bridged with earth. At the eastern end of this section the
embankment and ditch become less distinct as the landslope increases to the
east. The final 40m of this section passes rough land with a covering of trees
and then terminates as the land shelves steeply upwards to the east.
Eastwards, the natural terrain and a minor valley to the north present a
natural barrier to passage along the valley side.
The most easterly of the four sections of earthwork is the best preserved
where it demarks or defends the top of a ridge to the north of Rebellion
Knoll. Here the bank and ditch are 170m long with both ends appearing to be
original terminals. A track along the top of the ridge, known as Brough Lane,
passes through this section. The embankment stands to a maximum height of
1.5m with a ditch to the north, up to 2.3m deep.
The earthwork also defends or forms a line of demarcation across a Roman road
from Navio to Buxton, known as Batham Gate. Several similar earthworks, often
called `dykes', are also found in south western Yorkshire. These are believed
to have been built by native populations to curb the westerly advance of
Anglo-Saxons, during the 5th-7th centuries, or formed a demarcation between
the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia during the 7th century or later. It is
also possible that the Grey Ditch formed a defendable demarcation during the
Viking period when Hope came under the control of the English during the
early tenth century prior to the submission of the north.
All drystone walls, gates and gateposts, the metalling of roads and pathways
and the topsoil of grass verges, are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A small number of substantial and defensible boundary features have been
identified as frontier works marking territories in the early medieval period.
Up to 50 examples are known with a fairly wide distribution across England,
including examples in southern England, East Anglia, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and
along the Welsh border.
Identified remains extend over distances from as little as 300m up to as much
as 240km in the case of Offa's Dyke. They survive in the form of earthworks
and as buried features visible as cropmarks or soilmarks on aerial
photographs. They appear often to have been constructed across the natural
grain of the landscape and, although many examples consisted of a single bank
and flanking ditch, to vary considerably in their form and dimensions, even
along different stretches of the same boundary, depending upon local
topography.
Evidence from contemporary documentary sources, excavation and survey suggests
that they were constructed in the early medieval period between the fifth and
eighth centuries AD. Some were relatively ephemeral, perhaps in use for only a
few years during periods of local strife; others, such as Offa's Dyke,
constructed between Wales and Mercia, have formed long-lived territorial
and/or military boundaries in use for several centuries.
As a rare monument type of considerable importance to the study of early
medieval territorial patterns, all surviving examples are identified as
nationally important.

The Grey Ditch is well preserved and is one of only three possible early
medieval frontier works in the Peak District. It provides an important insight
into activity in the area at this period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Guilbert, G, Taylor, C, Grey Ditch, Bradwell, Derbyshire: 1992 Excavation, (1992)
Michelmore, DJH, West Yorkshire: an Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981), 172-5
Hart, C R, 'Mercian Studies' in The Kingdom of Mercia, (1977), 43-61

Source: Historic England

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